Lancaster City boss Phil Brown says Mike Hale thought long and hard about ending his four-year stay at Giant Axe.
The popular goalkeeper, a key figure in the Dolly Blues’ Evo-Stik First Division North title win, will not follow the club into the Premier Division next season.
Increased travelling in the league above means Hale doesn’t feel he can commit to the cause due to work and family reasons.
“Work commitments and young children make the league above too much for me,” he posted on Twitter.
“Wish you all the best. Great fans, great club.”
“It’s the nature of the beast, certainly in non-league,” said Brown.
“It’s something Mike’s been thinking about.
“Even this year in the north division the commitment of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday has been something that’s been on his mind a little bit.
“With us going up a division that’s probably made his mind up a little bit more.
“He has had four great years at Lancaster and he’ll be another player that will be missed.
“But it’s my job to bring in a replacement and I’m actively trying to do that.”
Hale joins 35-goal front man Jordan Connerton in leaving the club, the striker taking the decision to move back out to Australia having previously had a stint Down Under in 2014.
“It’s a brilliant way for them to sign off,” said Brown.
“For Jordan it was his hometown club and obviously Mike leaving the club after four years as a title winner is a great way to sign off.”
City are set to spend far more time on the road come August 12, when the Premier Division season kicks off.
Short hops to Bamber Bridge, Kendal Town and Clitheroe have been replaced by lengthier trips to Halesowen, Grantham and Rushall.
Brown however isn’t overly concerned by the increased travel time his side will face.
“When you’re in the First Division North you’ve got the north and south split and when you’re in the Premier Division there’s just one division,” said the Blues boss.
“You’re in with all the south teams.
“There’s all the Birmingham teams so there is more travelling for obvious reasons, probably and hour, hour and a half, on what we’ve been used to.
“But having said there’s local games.
“Stalybridge and Altrincham have come down, Witton have gone up as have Farsley with ourselves.
“Shaw Lane are a Yorkshire team. There’s a lot of shorter trips as well.
“I’ve not got a big issue in terms of travelling but it can be tough for some players.”